Despite the fact that Game 5 of the World Series was going on at the same time in the same city, the NFL and Monday Night Football soldiered on regardless, and served up a dog fart of a game between the Seahawks and Rams, which the Seahawks won, 14-9. Though maybe nothing could be quite as jaw-clenchingly pedestrian as the Giants’ five field goal “win” over the Eagles on Sunday, these two teams made an honest go of it, putting together some of the best strings of consecutive penalties that we’re liable to see all year. Although the last minute or so was pretty exciting– as the Rams suddenly discovered a run game and made it to a fourth and goal with four seconds left to score the winning touchdown, before calling a final (and unsuccessful) no-back set pass play seeming designed to take advantage of backup quarterback Kellen Clemens’ (at the time of the play call) 15-30 /158 yard / 2 INT performance that night– the most notable part of the game the morning after was the same thing that led the late edition of Sports Center: Golden Tate tauting Rodney McLeod as Tate was on his way to scoring his second touchdown of the night. As taunting goes, it was incisive and effective. Have a look:
Watching it live, the taunt kind of came out of nowhere and the booth, Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden, was quick bring out the tisk-tisk, “there’s no place in football for things like that” clucking. But in talking about it for a little bit, I developed a totally unfounded, yet I think entirely plausible theory as to what exactly was going on there. As we have already established, this game was horrendous, and especially horrendous was the Seattle offense, and especially especially horrendous was the Seattle offensive line. Russell Wilson was sacked 400 times by a Rams defensive that looked, um, good? Given that this was going on, its easy to extrapolate the conversations going on among the Seattle receivers and the St. Louis corners and secondary. Tate was having to pull up every third route short because Wilson was already on the ground. I imagine that was getting frustrating. Then when Tate rips that errant Wilson pass away from a sure interception and sees nothing but daylight toward the end zone and one angry storm cloud of Rodney McLeod trying to close in from 15 yards out, he Tate-ed (if that’s what we’re calling it now). Let’s see it again:
Pete Carroll was quick chide Tate when he got to the sideline and Wilson did as well. And endlessly, it seemed, Tirico and Gruden frowned. After the game, Tate said all the things you’d imagine a contrite, humbled “role model” would say:
“That was immature of me,” Tate said. “I hurt my team. I’ve got to stay composed, play football, act like I’ve been there before. I’ve got to apologize to our special teams because I put them in an awkward situation. It won’t happen again. I’m going to move forward.”
But here’s the thing, not only am I not mad at this, but I half expect Tate to receive lobster and champagne from Wilson and the offensive line. The Seahawks were getting shown up and put down by the Rams defense and Tate essentially pushed them right in their faces with an athletic interpretive dance of “come at me, bro.” I think football teams can need stuff like this from time to time. Obviously, Wilson and Carroll don’t want Tate doing this all the time, because the penalty assigned to it was no joke. But just like a well timed technical foul in basketball, or a high and tight pitch in baseball, or an all out fist fight in hockey, plays like this can spur a team to dig into the macho, brobot part of their personality and potentially get themselves out of the doldrums of a 7-6 snoozefest. Or it can enable the reckless and stupid part of being a macho brobot and everything can implode. I get that there is a risk. But in the context of this game, I’m fine with it. Eat your lobster, Golden Tate.